Gutoc on alliance shift: I waited for LP, but it did no large-scale organizing
MANILA, Philippines — One of the biggest surprises in this pre-election campaign period is the decision of civic leader Samira Gutoc to align herself with Aksyon Demokratiko after running in the 2019 senatorial race with the Liberal Party dominated-Otso Diretso.
With criticisms being hurled at her by LP supporters, Gutoc explained her move on Monday in an interview in One News’ “The Chief.”
On deciding last February that she would again run for senator, she thought that she would have to see the Liberal Party start mass organizing, which she said in Filipino was “really needed” as it would have the party get a feel for the movements on the ground.
But when she saw no indication that the party had started mass organizing, she knew she would have to explore other options.
“Where am I in the universe of things?” she said in “The Chiefs” interview to describe what she felt then.
“So I mean, honestly, I know they trusted me, and they were also maybe pushing for me somehow because I was always part of meetings,” she said.
She noted that young people had been asking her about her plans for the 2022 elections.
So she thought about Aksyon Demokratiko, which she used to work with during her youth organizer days as she felt that it gave her a chance to pursue her advocacies.
“And they put me at a level that’s like: ‘Sam, let’s campaign together. Let’s fight for the youth as we used to. You were the vice president of the national youth parliament’,” she said. “This was my community. I wonder if you can get the feeling that this was my first community.”
According to her, she had also participated in many of the party’s forums.
“And they offered me the execom position,” she added.
As early as August 2021, Aksyon was already perceived to have been making key political moves, starting with the transfer of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to the party, and eventually electing him as party president.
Since then, the party has gained more support aside from longtime members, like co-founder Sonia Roco and Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, who is the party’s executive vice president.
Even before Moreno joined, other local officials and groups had taken their oath with Aksyon Demokratiko.
In contrast, the Liberal Party has just recently conducted its general assembly, while its possible standard bearer in the presidential race — Vice President Leni Robredo — has yet to release a decision.
There’s a chance for a faceoff between Robredo and Moreno in the polls if unity talks fail.
Gutoc was one of the eight candidates from the Otso Diretso coalition that included former Senators Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, former House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada (LP) former Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo), former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay (Aksyon) and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal (independent).
Despite Aksyon being in the mix back then, Gutoc was not yet involved with them, and she ran in 2019 as an independent candidate.
Gutoc’s recent Facebook post — a photo of her taking her oath with Aksyon Demokratiko before Moreno, who’s the president — got negative comments, labeling her a politician without loyalty for leaving the Liberal Party.
SAMahan ninyo po ako sa panibagong yugto ng aking buhay. Gabayan nawa tayo ng panginoon. Inshallah#BilisKilos #AksyonNgayon #LabanLang #KasamaSiAteSam #SAMaSamaTayo
In reaction, Gutoc said that she had maintained being an independent candidate — even in the days of Otso Diretso.
“In the coalition of Otso Diretso, I was the CS — civil society [representative],” she said.
She pointed out, however, that she, as a candidate, would be trying to woo not only those in nongovernment organizations but millions of other voters as well.
She added that she had reached out to Liberal Party members and told them of her being an independent candidate.
“I didn’t take an oath, but I honored being an Otso Diretso [candidate, I was always in all activities,” she added.
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